Rock & Roll Heaven

Patti Page Turn the Page and Close the Book

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Submitted by Don Graham

Iconic American singer Patti Page has passed away at age 85. She was the best-selling female artist of the 1950s, and sold over 100 million records in her lifetime. Born Clara Ann Fowler in Claremore Oklahoma in November of 1927 she changed her name to Patti Page and made her first record in 1948 "Confess". In 1950, she had her first million-selling single "With My Eyes Wide Open, I'm Dreaming", and would eventually have 14 additional million-selling singles between 1950 and 1965.

Page's signature song, "Tennessee Waltz", recorded in 1950, was one of the biggest selling singles of the time. "Tennessee Waltz" spent 13 weeks atop the charts in 1950. Page had three additional  # 1 hit singles between 1950 and 1953, with "All My Love (Bolero)", "I Went to Your Wedding", and "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window". Her Oklahoma background may have been responsible for Page blending a little of the country style into many of her most popular songs. By doing this, many of Page's singles were successful in the country market. Page continued to have major hits into the mid-1960s with "Old Cape Cod", "Allegheny Moon", "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold)", and "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte".

In the 1970s, Page focused her career towards country music, and she began charting on the country charts, up until 1982. Page was one of the few vocalists to have made the country charts in five separate decades.

Fontella Bass of Rescue Me Fame Passes On

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Fontela Bass was born into a family with deep musical roots. Her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, one of the Clara Ward Singers. Her younger brother, David Peaston, had a string of R&B hits in the 1980s and 1990s. Peaston died in February at age 54.

Fontella Bass was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and at early age Fontella showed great musical talent – at five years old she was providing the piano accompaniment for her grandmother's singing at funeral services, she was singing in her church's choir at six years old and by the time she was nine she was accompanying her mother on tours throughout the American South and Southwest.

Passages of 2012


By Don Graham

It’s that time of year again when we take stock of all the folks in the music industry who left us in the past 12 months. We make note of their passing at the time it happens, say our condolences, write our obits and remember them fondly. But it seems it’s only when we look at the year’s end list that we realize the volume of names that appear there.  This year was no different. We lost some great folks in 2012 and the heavens are rockin’ with the sound of music.

This year, the world’s oldest teenager, Dick Clark entered Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven and what a lineup he has to work with from this years entrants.

The incredible Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and Etta James joined the choir along with Robin Gibb, Monkee Davy Jones, Andy Williams, Major Harris of the Delfonics , Orleans lead singer Larry Hoppen, Donna Summer and Kathi Macdonald. Dave Brubeck will jam with British guitarist Big Jim Sullivan and Ravi Shankar and the Band’s Levon Helm, along with Duck Dunn or Funk Brother Bob Babbitt will be laying down the bass line. If they take a break John Stockfish ,Lightfoot’s bassman or  Bob Birch , bassist of Elton John fame can fill in with Crowded House drummer Peter Jones and Herb Reed of the Platters adding his velvet voice as will Earl “Speedo” Carroll. Just recently Mexican superstar Jenni Rivera was called home. She was there to greet 'Rescue Me' Fontella Bass as she crossed over at the last minute.

Ravi Shankar Dies at 92

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Submitted by Don Graham

Ravi Shankar, musician, composer and India’s best-known contemporary musician passed away this week in San Diego California. These days, Shankar is perhaps best known as the father of singing star Norah Jones but in the 1960’s, he was responsible for bringing Eastern music to the West through his relationship with the Beatles and George Harrison. He brought the mystical sound to the Liverpool band’s Sgt. Pepper album with Harrison playing a sitar on “Within You, Without You. “ Stunning performances at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock Festival  in 1969 cemented Shankar's place in Western musical history and allowed him to become an ambassador of Eastern wisdom to a generation that was searching for new values. Brian Jones used a sitar on the Rolling Stones classic “Paint It Black.”

The sitar is a remarkable instrument, intricately made and has a unique and ethereal sound. I actually saw one in the 60’s when guitar player and producer Bill Hill of Chestnut Tree Productions acquired one in a swap with a fan. “ I was playing  with a Fender Showman with 2 15” JBL speakers when a fan came to me and asked if I wanted to buy a sitar. His dad was in the merchant navy and had brought it back from India. I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy it but he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He offered me the sitar for one of my 15” JBLs. At the the end of the gig I extracted the speaker and made the trade. Beautiful instrument, real ivory, gorgeous wood and ambient sound.”

Jenni Rivera Dies in Small Plane Crash

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Mexican superstar Jenni Rivera was killed in a plane crash in the early morning hours of December 10th. She was 43 years old. Four other passengers and two pilots were also aboard the plane.

There were no survivors. The flight was headed from Monterrey to Toluca, after Rivera performed in Monterrey on Saturday night. Mexico's transportation ministry says the plane lost contact with radar at 3:15 AM, not far from  Monterrey, Mexico.

"There is nothing recognizable, neither material nor human" in the wreckage found in the state of Nuevo Leon, Ruiz Esparza said. The impact was so powerful that the remains of the plane "are scattered over an area of 250 to 300 meters. It is almost unrecognizable."

A California driver's license with Rivera's name and picture was found amidst the crash site debris.

No immediate cause was given for the plane's crash. The wreckage was found near the town of Iturbide in Mexico's Sierra Madre Oriental, where the terrain is very rough.

Born in Long Beach, California, Rivera was at the top of her career and was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated regional style influenced by the norteno, cumbia and ranchero styles.

Former Host Tom Kelly of Singalong Jubilee Passes Away


Submitted by Mel Shaw

Tom Kelly, singer/songwriter, passed away after a heart attack on November 25th in his  home town of Burlington, Ontario  and Canada has lost another marvelous soul of music. His passing silences another voice of reason and compassion for others.

Tom was a writer of songs all his life. He had recently finished creating material for a new project he called, Legacy. From his explanations of the songs and spoken word narratives I know his creativity was alive and well.

Tom was quiet, thoughtful and compassionate. His relaxed personality was known by many friends and music industry acquaintances.

The general public never had that three minute song to identify his career nor did he have a major music happening to make him and his songs a household name. Tom didn't mind. He was all about the words and a melody to lift the spirits of those who were listening.

One highlight he fondly recalled was back awhile, when It looked like Tom was on his way to national fame'  He  took over the hosting of Singalong Jubilee on the CBC in Halifax. He was stepping into the studio spotlight of the program that the legendary host and singer, Bill Langstroth, had built by introducing the magic Maritime music to the nation.

Dave Brubeck Dies One Day Short of his 92nd Birthday

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Jazz great Dave Brubeck has died at the age of 91of heart failure while on his way to a cardiology appointment. He was with his son, Darius on the way to appointment when his son noticed something not right. He dialed 911 and was met at the hospital by medical staff. Brubeck’s career spanned from World War II to the present. He formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 and was the first jazz musician to make the cover of Time Magazine in 1954.

His best known album “Time Out” was released in 1959 and was the first ever jazz album to sell a million copies and is still selling today. The opening track “Blue Rondo ala Turk” is classic Brubeck. Based loosely on Mozart’s “Blue Rondo” it starts in 9/8 time. The piano and saxophone piece eventually intercuts between Brubeck’s piano and the more common 4/4 jazz rhythm. The album also featured Brubeck’s signature tune “Take Five”, in 5/4 time that actually charted as a single in 1961.

In 2009 he was still touring at age 88 and later in that year was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honour, The Kennedy Center Honors are awarded annually for exemplary lifetime achievement in the performing arts. Brubeck and his wife Iola had 5 sons and a daughter and 4 of his boys Chris on bass and trombone, Dan on drums Matthew on cello and Datius on keyboards played with the London Symphony in a December 2009 birthday tribute to Brubeck.

DoWop Singer Earl ‘Speedo’ Carroll Passes On

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Earl Carroll the lead singer of the do-wop group The Cadillacs  died on Nov. 25 of a stroke and diabetes at a New York nursing home. He was 75 years old.

In a 1994 interview via The Daily News in New York Carroll explained how he got his nickname. "I always liked to take my time, do things at my own pace," he said. "Since I was a kid, the other guys would be telling me, 'C'mon, hurry up, Speedy.’

Carroll was the lead singer on the 1955 hit by the Cadillacs “Speedo” which was titled after his nickname. Carroll went on to join The Coasters but left them in 1990 to reform The Cadillacs. 
In the 1990s, Carroll  made a new life for himself as a custodian at a New York public school. The children called Earl "Speedo" and he was later the subject of a children's book, That’s Our Custodian by Ann Morris. He left the school job in 2005 and continued to sing with The Cadillacs until his health forced him to quit.

He was a big part of the PBS series honoring Doo Wop, hosted by Jerry Butler.

Major Harris of The Delfonics Passed Away From Heart Entertainment

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Major Harris, a former member of the “Philadelphia sound” soul group the Delfonics and singer of the 1975 hit “Love Won’t Let Me Wait,” has died in Richmond. He was 65. His sister, Catherine Thomas, told the Associated Press that Harris passed away Friday morning from congestive heart and lung failure after being rushed to a hospital.

The Richmond native was born Feb. 9, 1947, and grew up in a musical family. His father was a guitarist and his mother led the church choir, Thomas said. In his teens, Harris was tall for his age and was able to get into clubs to watch musicians perform, she said.

“He always appeared to be older, which gave him a lot of ins to a lot of older places,” Thomas joked. She said he didn’t drink in the clubs back then, but he was pursuing his career. Music, she said, “was his life.”

Harris made the rounds with several music groups in the 1960s, including the Charmers, Frankie Lymon’s Teenagers and Nat Turner’s Rebellion. He then joined the Delfonics in the early 1970s, replacing Randy Cain in the group.

R.B. Greaves (Take A Letter Maria) Dies of Cancer

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

R. B. Greaves, a pop singer whose "Take a Letter, Maria" was a 1969 hit, has died in Los Angeles. He was 68 and was the nephew of the legendary R&B singer, Sam Cooke. Greaves died of prostate cancer on Sept. 27 at his home, said Craig Harvey, Los Angeles County coroner's chief of operations.

Ronald Bertram Aloysius Greaves III, was born on 28 November 1944, on a U.S. Air Force Base in Georgetown, (the former British) Guyana.Living in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, he recorded several soul singles as Sonny Childe, but it was after moving to the United States that he scored his biggest hit as R.B. Greaves and the hit ‘Take A Letter Maria.”

There are many other songs about infidelity hitting the top of the charts with “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel in 1968; “Me And Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul in 1972; “Torn Between Two Lovers” by Mary MacGregor in 1977, and a personal favourite of mine, the hauntingly beautiful duet of Jose Feliciano and Gloria Estefan and ‘Tengo Que Decirte Algo’ where a wife confesses her affair, and her husband lovingly forgives her.

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